Coordinator chat: Dennison has difficulties seeing from booth, Frazier gives ex-head coach grade (videos)
By: Nick Wojton
ORCHARD PARK – A lot of decision are made leading up to any NFL game and Sunday’s Buffalo Bills – Indianapolis Colts game was no different.
But of course, there were some difficult and unforeseen choices were made when the game was played in near blizzard conditions and Buffalo (7-6) head coach Sean McDermott’s decision making was tested in the 13-7 overtime win.
The most controversial was McDermott’s decision to punt on 4th-and-1 from the Colts’ 41-yard-line.
The head coach explained his decision with a lengthy two-minute response. The highlight:
“Well, look, those are hard situations. Those are challenging situations, but decisions I have to make as a head coach. Yesterday, look, it worked yesterday, right, to our benefit?” McDermott said. “In this case, it worked out, and I would do it again.”
As a former head coach, defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier realized the difficulties McDermott faced in the moment. McDermott even trotted punter Colton Schmidt out, called a timeout to think about it, and still punted. At this point, hindsight is 20/20, so Frazier supported the choice.
“Those are briefs seconds; a lot of different scenarios are going through your mind,” Frazier said. Then, you have to make a final decision. You have to trust your gut, sometimes in those situations, and it worked out perfectly for us, to be able to get that win. I think Sean made a great decision.”
Upon the start of overtime, Frazier said he made sure his team knew the circumstances. If Buffalo didn’t score a touchdown on the first drive, it would need a stop on defense. Frazier said when he double checked if his players knew what the game, and season, may come down to, they were ready.
“We were looking forward, as a defense, to getting on the field and getting the ball back to our offense, giving our offense a chance to score and win the game. I think our guys embraced the moment,” he said.
Sure, the offense scored, bailing out McDermott in some respect. But things didn’t come easy. Heck, offensive coordinator Rick Dennison, who calls plays from the coaches’ booth not the sideline, even thanked the simplest of things which were helpful.
“I also want to thank whoever picked the red jerseys. It was a lot easier for me to see them up there in the box. Man, it was tough to see the white,” Dennison said.
“When we first started the game, it wasn’t too bad. Sometime in the second quarter, it got really blurry. You couldn’t see any numbers of their team. We kind of had to figure out who they were by the way they ran. By the time we got to that point, we kind of understood who the defensive players were and knew they weren’t subbing. They were staying with their base defense and that kind of reduced our calls even more. Trying to make sure we didn’t put our guys in a tough situation,” Dennison said.
In terms of the game plan, Dennison said a good amount of things planned went out of the window just before kickoff. At nearly 11 a.m., skies around New Era Field were clear. By 1 p.m., inches of snow had fallen. A tough scenario.
“The game-plan got diminished when we started the game. It was a little harder to do some of the things footing wise, and just execution wise. We started with some motions, we even tried to throw those out because of timing of that,” Dennison said.
For more from both coordinators, see the attached videos below form both of their Monday press conference.